“The cubicle had the effect of putting people close enough to each other to create serious social annoyances, but dividing them so that they didn’t actually feel that they were working together. It had all the hazards of privacy and sociability but the benefits of neither.”
It wasn’t that long ago that I made it high enough up the corporate ladder to “earn” my first office. It was a palpable relief to have a multifunctional space that allowed me to provide my staff members with developmental constructive criticism, to focus deeply on a project, to house a permanent whiteboard that referenced drawings and sticky notes produced during brainstorming sessions, and let’s face it, even a place to call my wife once in a while.
Only a few years later my organization, like many others, moved to open office seating. I was devastated by the loss of personal privacy, I was constantly distracted by conversations and visual stimuli, and spent the better part of each day in conference rooms to host my staff members in small groups and 1-1.
Now, in planning the post-pandemic workplace, organizations have an opportunity to plan the zones and spaces in their office to support the four c’s of workplace experience (WEX):
- Collision: With fewer opportunities for impromptu interactions, workspaces must be designed to create opportunities for collision between employees to create and nurture weak ties.
- Creation: For synchronous activities, hands-on interaction out performs virtual or digital only, workspaces must be designed with creation spaces where offering hybrid inclusivity while providing tactile systems such as sticky notes, drawing boards, and other craft supplies.
- Confidentiality: Development conversations, personal challenges, performance evaluations, and compensation planning, workspaces must be designed with confidentiality in mind with doors, shades, sound masking, proximity, and more.
- Concentration: Meeting overload harms employees, workspaces must provide rich opportunities to pause, reflect, and think deeply about your next steps.
Getting the right mix of these four workplace experiences should be a focus for digital workplace leaders and their partners in HR, facilities, and business units.
To learn more about how Gartner is advising clients on the hybrid workplace please check out: